Betta Passed Unexpectedly

Taylor Horn

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So, unfortunately, my betta passed away a few days ago, and I have absolutely no idea what happened. I went to my parents for the holidays, and my house was empty for 3 days until my roommate got home. I told him to feed him 2 pellets a day, even though I gave him 2 in the morning and evening but I didn't want to burden him and figured he would be fine for a week as he was healthy and happy when I left. He told me he got home and fed him, so I didn't check in. 2 days later he sent me a photo of him on the bottom of the tank, still alive but barely. I was, and still am, so distraught about this. I loved my fish and did everything I could to make him happy. But because I wasn't here the whole time, there are a bunch of things I'm not sure of and I haven't been able to talk to my roommate in depth about it. What I know now that I am home is that the ammonia and nitrite are both still at 0, nitrate was a bit high but nothing crazy. My snail is still okay and I did a water change for him of course. Does anyone have any insight? Do you think I should wait a few weeks to get another fish until I figure out the cause in case it was bacterial? Such a bad way to start off the New Year...
Tank
  • What is the water volume of the tank? 5 gal
  • Does it have a filter? yes
  • Does it have a heater? yes
  • What is the water temperature? 75F
  • What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) betta and snail, now just the snail

Maintenance
  • How often do you change the water? weekly-biweekly
  • How much of the water do you change? 50 if weekly 25 if by weekly
  • What do you use to treat your water? prime
  • Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? just water

Parameters
  • Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? yes
  • What do you use to test the water? API Master Kit
  • What are your parameters? We need the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 40-80 (it's so hard to compare the colors for that test)
pH: 7.4


Feeding
  • How often do you feed your fish? see top
  • How much do you feed your fish? see top
  • What brand of food do you feed your fish? Betta color enhancing food
  • Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? on occasion, in tiny amounts (ie 2 bloodworms)

Illness & Symptoms:
  • How long have you had this fish? 3 months
  • How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? from what I know, a couple of days
  • In a few words, (more room for details below) what are the symptoms? lethargic, swimming towards bottom
  • Have you started any treatment for the illness? I didn't know until it was too late
  • Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? no
  • How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? behavior was lethargic but his coloring did not dull much if at all from what I saw in the photo
Thank you guys so much for any help on this. I'm heartbroken.
 

SomeoneFISHy

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Your tank looks better than mine! I have a one gallon (thanks grandma...) for the betta. I feel so bad for him! Anyway, the nitrates do look a little high. You also might want to vacuum the gravel to get out any debris, and to help air in the tank.
 
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Taylor Horn

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MinorMiner said:
Your tank looks better than mine! I have a one gallon (thanks grandma...) for the betta. I feel so bad for him! Anyway, the nitrates do look a little high. You also might want to vacuum the gravel to get out any debris, and to help air in the tank.
yea I have a gravel vac but I think it's too big because I can never get it to suck anything up. I just feel like the nitrates weren't high enough to kill him, but they're lower now that I changed the water when I got home of course. That was my pre water change reading
 

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Your nitrates are a bit high, I try and keep my betta tanks at 20ppm to 5ppm or so. I’d see what other members have to say though. Also, your temp is a bit low and that could have contributed to the lethargy. Bettas can survive at 75, but that is the low end of their range and they are much more comfortable at 78-81.

Did your fish look bloated in the pictures you sent? Did his fins look healthy?

I am sorry for your loss and hope we can help you figure this out.


EDIT: More things (waste, ammonia) build up at the bottom of the tank, so I also agree with gravel vacuuming. I use a fluval vacuum meant for the fluval edge in my tank and it is nice. Another smaller one is the Kedsum aquarium cleaner on amazon.
 
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Taylor Horn

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that is the only photo I got. For some reason, no matter how much water I change or how often I can only get to 20. I suspect some nitrates in the tap maybe. Plus like I said it's so hard to compare the colors.
 

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The_fishy

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Taylor Horn said:
that is the only photo I got. For some reason, no matter how much water I change or how often I can only get to 20. I suspect some nitrates in the tap maybe. Plus like I said it's so hard to compare the colors.
Hmm, can’t tell for bloating, but his fins look pretty good.
 

SM1199

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Since I see other people are on top of the main issue, I'll let that be, but I'll answer your one question about getting a new fish: I would say it is more than likely your tank is safe for a new fish, but I would hold off for your own mentality. I have lost bettas too and been completely heartbroken about it when they pass unexpectedly and I think it's better for your mental health and your new fish for you to wait until you're ready for another.
 
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Taylor Horn

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SM1199 said:
Since I see other people are on top of the main issue, I'll let that be, but I'll answer your one question about getting a new fish: I would say it is more than likely your tank is safe for a new fish, but I would hold off for your own mentality. I have lost bettas too and been completely heartbroken about it when they pass unexpectedly and I think it's better for your mental health and your new fish for you to wait until you're ready for another.
Yea I feel horrible like I did wrong by him. I still have my snail at least to keep up my biofilter until I'm ready. Everyone is saying I'm overreacting because of how sad I am about it but I just hate that something in my care suffered
 

The_fishy

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Here are links to the vacuums I was talking about.

KEDSUM Aquarium Cleaner, Aquarium...

Fluval GravelVAC MultI Substrate Cleaner Small (50cm)

Fluval EDGE Gravel Cleaner, 15-inch Intake Tube
 

SM1199

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Taylor Horn said:
Yea I feel horrible like I did wrong by him. I still have my snail at least to keep up my biofilter until I'm ready. Everyone is saying I'm overreacting because of how sad I am about it but I just hate that something in my care suffered
You should remind yourself that it wasn't really under your care and sometimes things are out of your control. I lost an entire tank of fish when I left for vacation because they fought over the automatic feeder and the most dominant fish killed all the others. I made a mistake, and I learned from it... My mom, who was watching them, blamed herself, but obviously she wouldn't have expected that to happen and wouldn't have been able to prevent it. I still blame myself for it, but I know I couldn't have expected that to happen either unless I was a more experienced aquarist at the time. You live and you learn - I hope someone else can help you pinpoint what went wrong.
 

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HI there! I just wanted to point out that two pellets a day is (typically) underfeeding your fish. There’s a difference between underfeeding and not overfeeding. Betta stomachs are about the size of their eye, yes, but they are made to expand. That said, take it with a grain of salt, because you know your fish and should use your best judgement.

As said, 75 F is pretty low for a betta, and weakens their immune systems. 78-82 is generally ideal

Because the gravel wasn’t vacuumed, it is possible that something stirred it up and a pocket of gas (I can’t think if the word right now of what it’s called, I believe anaerobic gas? Someone correct me if that's not it lol) went into the water and killed your fish.

Snails are a lot more sensitive than bettas, so it surprises me that the betta passed and the snail didn’t. Unless it was from malnutrition. Do you have any pictures of the betta before you went on vacation?
 
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Taylor Horn

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Bubbles_and_Fins said:
HI there! I just wanted to point out that two pellets a day is (typically) underfeeding your fish. There’s a difference between underfeeding and not overfeeding. Betta stomachs are about the size of their eye, yes, but they are made to expand. That said, take it with a grain of salt, because you know your fish and should use your best judgement.

As said, 75 F is pretty low for a betta, and weakens their immune systems. 78-82 is generally ideal

Because the gravel wasn’t vacuumed, it is possible that something stirred it up and a pocket of gas (I can’t think if the word right now of what it’s called, I believe anaerobic gas? Someone correct me if that's not it lol) went into the water and killed your fish.

Snails are a lot more sensitive than bettas, so it surprises me that the betta passed and the snail didn’t. Unless it was from malnutrition. Do you have any pictures of the betta before you went on vacation?
Yea I always gave him 2 twice a day, so 4 total. But thankfully my snail is still happy and just eating away constantly as always. I'll definitely have to get a better vacuum and heater before I think about getting another fish.
 

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